Psychometrist: What do they do?

psychometrician psychometrist

A psychometrist is an important profession within the world of assessment and psychology.  Their primary role is to deliver and interpret assessments.  For example, they might give IQ tests to kids to identify those who qualify as Gifted, then explain the results to parents and teachers.  Obviously, there are many assessments which do not require one-on-one in-person delivery like this; psychometrists are unique in that they are trained on how to deliver these complex types of assessments.  This post will describe more about the role of a psychometrist.

Psychometrist: What do they do?

A psychometrist is someone involved in the use and administration of assessments, and in most cases is working in the field of psychological testing. This is someone who uses tests every day and is familiar with how to administer such tests (especially complex ones like IQ) and interpret their results to provide feedback to individuals. Some have doctoral degrees as a clinical/counseling psychologist and have extensive expertise in that role; for example, the use of an Autism-spectrum screening test to effectively diagnose patients and develop individualized plans.

Consider the following definition from the National Association of Psychometrists:

A psychometrist is responsible for the administration and scoring of psychological and neuropsychological tests under the supervision of a clinical psychologist or clinical neuropsychologist. 


Where do psychometrists work?

The vast majority of psychometrists work in a clinical setting.  One might work in an Autism center.  One might be at a psychiatric hospital.  One might be at a neurological clinic.  Some school psychologists also perform this work, working directly in schools.  In all cases, they are working directly with the examinee (patient, student, etc.).

Psychometrist vs. Related Roles

One misconception that I often see on the internet is the distinction or lack thereof between the words psychometrician, psychologist, and psychometristThe latter is someone involved with the engineering of assessments, usually not even in the field of psychology; often with employment skills, professional certifications, university admissions, or K-12 education.  They do not deliver assessments.

These all work in the intersecting fields of psychology and assessment, but are actually quite different.  The most flagrant offender, curiously, is Google. Like most companies, we utilize AdWords. Google often treats the words psychometrician and psychometrist as interchangeable, even though the two are nowhere near each other in true meaning. It also does the same with psychometrics and psychometric testing which are similarly quite distant, but that’s a blog post for another day.

A psychometrist usually works under the direction of a psychologist, though sometimes a psychologist serves as their own psychometrist.  For example, a psychologist at a mental health clinic is in charge of screening patients and treating them, but might have staff to deliver psychological assessments.  But a psychologist in a school might not have staff for that, and also delivers IQ tests to students.

For clarification, here is a comparison:

Aspect Psychometrician Psychometrist Psychologist
How are they involved with assessment? Engineering & validation Administration & interpretation Patient treatment
Education PhD in Psychometrics, Psychology, or Education Bachelor’s/Master’s in Psychology (often Counseling) PhD in Psychology (often Counseling or Clinical)
Quantitative skills Complex analyses like item response theory or factor analysis; complex designs such as adaptive testing Interpreting scores with summary statistics (mean, standard deviation, z-scores, correlations) Quantitative research outside of assessment, such as comparing treatment methods
Soft skills Often a pure data analyst, but some work with expert panels for topics like job analysis or Angoff studies; never with patients or students Works extensively with patients and students, often in a counseling role, and can be highly trained on those aspects Works extensively with patients and students, often in a counseling role, and can be highly trained on those aspects
Example Researcher involved in designing high-stakes exams such as medical certification or university admissions Staff in a clinic that delivers IQ and other assessments to patients Supervisory staff in a clinic that treats patients

To draw a metaphorical comparison, if this was an airplane, the psychometrician would be the engineer that designed the plane, the psychologist is the airline that sets schedules and services, and the psychometrist would be the pilot. Obviously all roles are important to effective functioning of the airplane, but the roles are quite different – even though the terms are almost the same in our case!

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Nathan Thompson, PhD

Nathan Thompson earned his PhD in Psychometrics from the University of Minnesota, with a focus on computerized adaptive testing. His undergraduate degree was from Luther College with a triple major of Mathematics, Psychology, and Latin. He is primarily interested in the use of AI and software automation to augment and replace the work done by psychometricians, which has provided extensive experience in software design and programming. Dr. Thompson has published over 100 journal articles and conference presentations, but his favorite remains